While the Obama administration pursues legal options to keep its offshore drilling moratorium in place, a study for its Gulf commission says the need for it has already passed. The presidential commission on the Gulf spill requested the study after numerous complaints about the arbitrary and capricious nature of a six-month blanket ban on drilling in the Gulf based on the one catastrophe, a ban that will eliminate 23,000 jobs that the US and the region can scarcely afford to lose. Not only are those losses critical, they are also unnecessary, according to the study:
President Barack Obama’s moratorium on deep-water drilling is no longer needed because new rules reduce the risk of an uncontrolled spill, according to a report for a panel investigating BP Plc’s blowout.
Rules issued in June by the Interior Department “provide an adequate margin of safety to responsibly allow the resumption of deep-water drilling,” according to the report today from the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington-based research group. The rules, if followed by BP, Apache Corp. and other drillers, and enforced by regulators, “will achieve a significant and beneficial reduction of risk.”
The report was prepared for the presidential commission investigating the BP spill. Its leaders, former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator William Reilly and former Democratic Senator Bob Graham of Florida, have questioned the need for the moratorium, which is scheduled to expire Nov. 30.
“It confirms what we’ve been saying in Louisiana, that a six-month moratorium is arbitrary and capricious,” Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Scott Angelle, a Democrat, said today in an interview. The rules “have created an environment where a bipartisan, independent group says we can get back to work. We need to start issuing permits.”
When will the White House lift the moratorium? Not any time soon, apparently. Despite requesting the study, the presidential commission refused to endorse its findings, at least not immediately. Michael Bromwich wants to wait until public hearings into the disaster are concluded, which means the ban won’t get lifted until at least the end of September.
So now we have a court that determined that the Obama administration didn’t have a rational basis for its blanket moratorium. A study requested by the White House’s own panel confirms that the six-month ban is unnecessary. Why didn’t the ban get lifted immediately? People in the Gulf need to get back to work, and this White House wants to do nothing but talk.